Suzann Pileggi, MAPP ‘08, is a wellness writer and consultant. She is a monthly columnist for the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) newsletter and Wisdom magazine. She is also a certified holistic health counselor. Suzann’s website.
Her articles are here.
BOOK REVIEW: Pathways to Greatness: 77 Inspirational Essays from The Greatness Project by Scott Asalone and Jan Sparrow
(*The book is available for purchase at http://www.greatinsightspress.com or at Amazon.com.)
Why do some people rise to the top while others languish? Are there personal characteristics that enable some individuals and groups to thrive during tough times? Fascinated by these questions, management consultants Scott Asalone (MAPP ’08) and Jan Sparrow set out to study greatness nearly a decade ago and compiled their findings in their new book, Pathways to Greatness: 77 Inspirational Essays from The Greatness Project. A must-read for anyone interested in identifying greatness, understanding it, and seeking to get more of it in life.
What initially began as a study to define greatness evolved into a quest to uncover those characteristics that people who were deemed “great” exude. The authors launched The Greatness Project™ with an email survey asking people about their personal views on greatness. Astounded by the enthusiastic response of the respondents – in particular, the personal stories they shared, and the overwhelming desire of everyone to know more about greatness and its respective qualities – Asalone and Sparrow were encouraged to explore greatness at a deeper level. Are these traits inborn or something that can be learned? The authors and respondents alike were curious to uncover the answer.
What is & What makes Greatness
Defined as “the optimal use of your resources and capabilities,” the authors illustrate how greatness is something that everyone can achieve and experience. Their brief and engaging stories of their experiences, and those of others, reflect that greatness is everywhere – in the ordinary and the extraordinary. We just have to open our eyes to see it. Greatness is “a truism that once you begin looking for something you tend to see it more often”, remark Asalone and Sparrow. That is what they began to experience in their daily lives. The reader not only has a chance to understand greatness at a deeper level but also the ability to learn the skills and build the traits in order to increase their own “greatness” in life.
Positive psychology practitioners will find that much of what Asalone and Sparrow address in terms of greatness parallels concepts in positive psychology. And, this book was started well before Asalone, fellow MAPP alum, even contemplated the thought of studying positive psychology – 5 years before the MAPP program begin, and just two years after the burgeoning field was founded by Dr. Martin Seligman. The authors were indeed ahead of their time.
As the title suggests, the book is divided into 77 short essays from The Greatness Project based upon the elements, qualities, and behavioral traits that the authors found people most commonly ascribed to those possessing greatness, including:
- Interior Design
- Finding Your Purpose
- People First
- The Gift of Gratitude
- The Difference Is Zeal!
- Because We Can
Through their clear, concise writing, and powerful storytelling, the authors have created an informative, uplifting, and inspirational book. Its easy-to-digest, essay format makes Pathways to Greatness a quick-read that will resonate with readers everywhere. From Asalone and Sparrow’s heartfelt recounting of their first hand experiences with the tragedy of 9/11 and how they were uplifted by the greatness of spirit they encountered in many others, to their everyday revelations from survey data, research, and workshops, the authors capture the essence of greatness, and it’s transformative and healing power. The Greatness Project survey data unequivocally show that great individuals are not defined by their material success but by their “search for meaning in life….something greater than themselves that will benefit others.” As G. K. Chesterton remarked, “The truly great person is the one who makes every person feel great.”
Like the authors creative use of storytelling to communicate their message, the book conveys that it’s not just what we do in life that matters, but the joy, passion, and zeal we infuse into what we do that gives our lives purpose and lifts us up to greatness. Perhaps in our quest for “greatness” we remember the graceful flight attendant’s remark about what enabled her to remain cheerful amidst disgruntled passengers – “There is so much anger in the world: I just try every day to bring in some happiness.” In the spirit of love that we celebrate this month, to quote the authors, we must remember to cherish our relationships that “provide balance during our growth toward greatness by grounding us in our humanity.”
- The book contains a “Reflections Appendix” along with a “Greatness Project Challenge” that includes introspective questions designed to help readers take the first steps towards achieving personal greatness by helping them identify self-perceived impediments to greatness.
- Readers can register for The Greatness Project, and receive Asalone and Sparrow’s inspiring monthly newsletter. Visit http://www.greatnessproject.com to sign up.